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Silver Barracuda
SilverBarracuda
Silver Barracuda

Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Chordata

Class:

Actinopterygii

Order:

Perciformes

Family:

Sphyraenidae

Genus:

Sphyraena

The barracuda is a ray-finned fish known for its large size and fearsome appearance. Its body is long, fairly compressed, and covered with small, smooth scales. Some species could reach up to 1.8m in length and 30 cm in width.[2] The barracuda is a salt water fish of the genus Sphyraena, the only genus in the family Sphyraenidae, and is found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.

Appearance and physical descriptionEdit

Barracudas are elongated fish, pike-like in appearance, with prominent sharp-edged fang-like teeth, much like piranhas, that are all of different sizes which are set in sockets of their large jaws. They have large pointed heads with an under bite in many species. Their gill-covers have no spines and are covered with small scales. Their two dorsal fins are widely separated with the anterior fin having five spines, the posterior fin having one spine and nine soft rays. The posterior dorsal fin is similar in size to the anal fin and is situated above it. Thelateral line is prominent and extends straight from head to tail. The spinous dorsal fin is placed above the pelvic fins and is normally retracted in a groove. The caudal fin is moderately forked with its posterior edged double-curved and is set at the end of a stout peduncle. The pectoral fins are placed low on the sides. Their swim bladder is large.

In most cases, they are dark green, dark blue, or gray on their upper body with silvery sides and chalky-white belly. Coloration varies somewhat between species. For some species, there are irregular black spots or a row of darker cross-bars on each side. Their fins may be yellowish or dusky. Barracudas live primarily in oceans, but certain species such as the Great Barracuda live in brackish water.

Some species grow quite large, such as the European barracuda, barracouta or spet (S. sphyraena), found in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic; the Great barracuda, picuda or becuna (S. picuda), ranging on the Atlantic coast of tropical America fromNorth Carolina to Brazil and reaching Bermuda. Other barracuda species are found around the world. Examples are the CaliforniaBarracuda (S. argentea), extending from Puget Sound southwards to Cabo San Lucas; the Indian barracuda (S. jello) and the black-finned or Commerson's barracuda (S. commersoni), from the seas of India and the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago.

BehaviorEdit

The collective name for a group of barracudas is a battery.[3] They are voracious, opportunistic predators relying on surprise and short bursts of speed (up to 27 miles per hour (43 km/h))[4] to overtake their prey.

Adults of most species are more or less solitary, while young and half-grown fish frequently congregate. Barracuda prey primarily on fish (which may include some as large as themselves). They kill and consume larger prey by tearing chunks of flesh.

Barracudas and humansEdit

Like sharks, some species of barracuda are reputed to be dangerous to swimmers. Barracudas are scavengers, and may mistake snorkelers for large predators, following them in hopes of eating the remains of their prey. Swimmers have been reported being bitten by barracuda but such incidents are rare and possibly caused by poor visibility. Barracuda generally avoid muddy shallows, so attacks in surf are more likely to be by small sharks. Barracudas may mistake things that glint and shine for prey.[5] There has been a reported incident of a barracuda jumping out of water and injuring a kayaker.[6]

Handfeeding or touching large barracuda in general is to be avoided. Spearfishing around barracudas can also be dangerous, as they are quite capable of ripping a chunk from a wounded fish thrashing on a spear.

Diamond rings and other shiny objects have been known to catch their attention and resemble prey to them. Caution should be taken when swimming near mangrovecoastlines by covering or removing items.

As foodEdit

Barracudas are popular both as food and game fish. They are most often eaten as fillets or steaks. Larger species, like the Great Barracuda, have been implicated in cases ofciguatera food poisoning.[7]

Southern Nigerians smoke them for use in soups. Smoking protects the soft flesh from disintegrating in the broth.

SpeciesEdit

There are 27 known species:

Barracuda as the nameEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. 2002. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  2. ^ Humann, P.; Deloach, N. (February 2002). Reef Fish Identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, 3rd edition. Jacksonville, Florida, USA: New World Publications, Inc.. pp. 64. ISBN 1-878348-30-2.
  3. ^ http://www.hintsandthings.co.uk/kennel/collectives.htm
  4. ^ Reefquest Center for Shark Research. What's the Speediest Marine Creature?
  5. ^ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department
  6. ^ Jumping barracuda injures kayaker off Florida Keys
  7. ^ U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Hazard, Market, Geographic and Nomenclature Information for Great Barracuda.
  8. ^ Michele A. Pastore (2009). "Sphyraena intermedia sp. nov. (Pisces: Sphyraenidae): a potential new species of barracuda identified from the central Mediterranean Sea.". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 89 (6): 1299–1303.doi:10.1017/S0025315409000575.

ReferencesEdit

  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Sphyraenidae" in FishBase. January 2006 version.
  • Labat Jean-Baptiste (1663–1738) Nouveau voyage Isles de l'Amerique, contenant l'histoire naturelle...l'origine, les mour, la religion Paris 1742.
  • Norman JR, F.L.S. and Fraser, FC, D.Sc., F.L.S.Field Book of Giant Fishes G.P. Putnam's Sons New York 1949.
  • Rochefort Charles D. (1605–1683) Histoire naturelle et morale des illes Antilles de l'Amerique.
  • Sloane Hans Sir (1660–1753) A voyage to the islands of Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica London, Printed by BM for the author, 1707-1725.

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